by W. H. Perrin
Harrison is one of the wealthiest counties in the
southern part of the state, agriculturally, and one of the most
important in the commonwealth in historical interest. Within its limits
occurred much that has passed into history. Within its limits also,
have figured some of the ablest men the State has known, now finger
marks are still to be seen, and whose statesmanship and wise counsels
have been largely instrumental in placing her in an honorable position
in the Union. For more than a decade of years from 1813 to 1825 its
county seat was the capitol of the State, and the old Capital building
still stands, a monument of historical interest. Here was once the home
of General William Henry Harrison, the farmer, patriot and soldier,
whose trumpets never sounded the notes of retreat, the hero of the
famed field of Tippecanoe, the ninth President of the United States,
and the grandsire of the President. Here such men as he; General Posey,
the soldier and patriot, the companion and friend of Washington;
Jennings, honest, pure, and heroic courage for the right, Harbin Moore,
"a meteor of brilliant thought and speech, and princely in courtly
elegance of manners and conversations;" the Boones unrivaled in pioneer
daring, that never quailed before their savage enemies, and in whose
lexicon there was on such word as fail; Spier Spencer, who laid down
his life on the field of Tippecanoe, and other master spirits of the
time, who lived out the measure of their days; and the fruit of their
labors here are yet visible. Their surroundings, however were such as
we know little of now, except by tradition. Pioneer life here, if all
authorities may be credited, was rough, rude, simple, sincere, honest,
warm-hearted and hospitable, and many of the men of mark of that
period, though brilliant, were erratic, often irreverent and
dissipated. Their lives were fevered and delirious, and upon the
postrum or in the forum they gleamed and flashed like blazing meteors.
In the metropolis of the territory and the young State centered the two
extremes of pioneer society; the rude implicitly, and the gifted
brilliant children of erratic genius. Above the mass, such men as
Harrison, Jennings, Posey, Moore, etc., towered the Saul above his
fellows. The leading events in the lives of these ,em, and so far as
they are interwove with the history of Harrison County, will be noted
as the sketch progresses.
Harrison is one of
the southern tier of counties, and lies in a great arc of a circle of
the Ohio River, which borders it for nearly forty miles and separates
it from the State of Kentucky. It is bounded on the north by Washington
County; on the east by Floyd County and the Ohio River; on the west by
the Ohio and Crawford County, and continues four hundred and seventy
eight square miles. By the last census it had a population of 21,326.
In common with the entire southern part of the State, it is rather
broken and hilly, but notwithstanding has a large amount of fin farming
land. The principal streams, besides the Ohio River, are Blue River,
forming the general dividing line between Harrison and Crawford
counties; Big Indian. Little Indian, forming a junction at the town of
Corydon; Buck and Mosquito Creek. These streams pass through narrow
valleys or canon like gorges, at a depth of three hundred to four
hundred feet below the highest hill-tops, and from one hundred and
twenty five to one hundred and fifty five below the the level of the
"barrens" or valley plateaus.
The name "barrens"
applied to portions of Harrison County, is somewhat misleading to the
modern ear. The barrens were so named, be cause when first visited by
white people they were devoid of timber. The pioneers had an
exaggerated idea to the amount of timber needed for dwelling and fuel,
and seemed to believe that soil too poor to grow timber would scarcely
grow anything else. while the "bare situation would expose them to the
burning sun of summer and the fierce blasts of winter. These treeless
regions, for years swept by autumnal fires, until they were covered
with only a coat of rank weeds and prairie grass, presented, in many
cases the uniformity, without the monotony, of the western prairies.
They made a beautiful picture of the splendor and bounty of untrammeled
nature, and the rank grass was, in the spring and summer season, over
topped with radiant flowers while the ground, rich and fruitful, was
covered with wild strawberries. So prodigal was Nature of these
unappreciated bounties that the odors were wafted on the breeze for
Vast herds of deer
bounded leisurely over the quietly rolling meadows, and great flocks of
wild turkeys in their panoply of glittering green and blue plumage were
met in every direction, while thousands of smaller birds, such as
pheasants and quails might be had for the taking. Such were the
"barrens" which, far from being barren or sterile, were among the
richest and most productive lands in the southern part of the State.
But since the annual fires have been prevented by settlements, and the
opening of farms, these prairie barrens are now, where not in
cultivation, covered with young forest trees from 12 to 18 inches in
One of the most
important features of Harrison county it its subterranean drainage. No
part of the world, perhaps, exhibits this feature so significantly. The
rocky substratum of the county is, as a rule, limestone. The surface is
a porous mass of fruits, geodes, siliceous fossils and fragments of
quartz, the insoluble remains of this limestone dissolved and eroded by
atmospheric agencies. The rainfall is absorbed by this mass, as if by a
sponge, and quickly conducted to sink-holes and ever enlarging crevices
to underground canals or ducts. The result is a subterranean system of
rivers, creeks and brooks, which flow along in midnight darkness,
peopled with a peculiar, fauna fishes, crawfishes, worms and beetles,
in which the organs of vision, unused for generations and ages are
obsolete. This peculiar system. and its depth below the surface,
renders the supply of water from wells uncertain, and residences;
churches and school-houses ate usually supplied with cisterns for
securing rain water for culinary and drinking purpose At many points,
the prevailing good health may be attributed to the use of pure rain
water. another remarkable effect of this drainage is observed in many
electrical phenomena, seemingly countary to the well known laws of
electricity. Lightning rarely or never strikes on the hills or
tablelands, but generally are always in deep valleys and often in basin
shaped sink holes from 200 to 400 feet below the hills immediately
adjoining or contiguous. Dry, porous earth filled with air, is a poor
conductor. Such is the condition of areas, from a scientific
standpoint, under run by rivers and streams. The electricity seeks the
shortest line to a good conductor by passing though the humid air to
one of the underground water courses.
The first known settlement by white
men in Harrison County, Indiana, was in the year 1792, when some
members of the Pennington family settled near Lanesville. Later, when
the territory now comprising the State of Indiana was erected into a
territory, adventurers and pioneers migrated from the eastern states by
means of horses, wagons, on foot and floated down the beautiful Ohio
River in search of home and fortune in that vast wilderness which was
then "the unknown west."
One of the most prominent men whose
acquaintance extended into Harrison County, in the early days, was the
noted pioneer, Daniel Boone. Daniel Boone frequently made hunting and
exploring trips into the county, remaining for weeks among relatives
and friends. In that day his acquaintance was co-extensive with the
entire county. A few years ago there was a tree still standing in the
eastern part of Posey Township upon which was carved certain characters
pointing to the location of a supposed "gold mine" found by Daniel
Boone, but investigation developed the fact that the deposit which
Boone thought was gold was the common iron mineral known as "fool's
Squire Boone: One of the most
prominent men in Indiana, in his day, was Squire Boone, who was a
brother of Daniel Boone. In 1802, Squire Boone, with his sons, Isaiah,
Enoch, Moses and Jonathan, located on a claim in Grassy Valley, in Heth
Township, about six miles from the Ohio River. The Bible names given to
his sons are indicative of his religious turn of mind and his sons all
grew up to become useful, patriotic citizens. Squire Boone was an
eccentric character, but possessed many excellent and admirable
qualities and was a man of sterling worth. Old settlers have often
found trees in the southern part of the county, upon which were carved,
with a knife, records of his prowess as a hunter, such as "A bear
killed here October i6th, 1802, by Squire Boone," which inscription is
said to have stood for many years on an old beach tree in Boone
Township. In 1803, Squire Boone is said to have engaged in a hand to
hand contest with an Indian, in which the Indian was killed. This was
at a point near Carter's School House in Taylor Township. On one of his
hunting expeditions, Squire Boone discovered a cave near Buck Creek in
Heth Township. At a later time he escaped, by hiding in this cave, when
being pursued by hostile Indians." This cave became one of his favorite
resorts and many figures of birds, beasts, Bible quotations, "etc., are
found on the rocks of its walls where they were engraved by the hand of
Squire Boone. Two of the lines carved in the face of a large stone are
"Here I sit and sing my soul's
And bless the God of my creation."
This old hunter had a design of
building a mill of singular workmanship, on Buck Creek, and had
prepared a large quantity of stones, engraved with many .curious
devices and tokens such as fishes, birds, animals and other
inscriptions, to be placed in the building. He died without
accomplishing this work, however, a mill was erected by his son, Moses
Boone, near the spot selected by his father. Squire Boone was buried,
at his own request, in the cave which he had discovered, and here
rested the remains of the noble old pioneer until his bones were
carried away by animals and relic hunters and today, nothing remains
but the inscriptions engraved in the walls of the cave, by his own
John Ripperdan: In 1807, John
Ripperdan came 'from Danville, Kentucky, and settled in Ripperdan's
Valley. Although much of the land in this valley has been cultivated
for more than a hundred years, it is .one 'of the most fertile spots in
Ephriam Fleshman: In 1807, Ephriam
Fleshman .came to Harrison County and settled in Heth Township. He was
the first white man to die in the county. His remains lie in Heth
John Frank moved from Salisbury,
North Carolina, to Heth Township, in 1808. He brought with him a large
quantity of apple, pear and peach seeds- from which many of the first
orchards in the county were grown.
Jacob Lopp came in the same year.
John Simler came to the county in
1807 and a short time after his arrival he built a wolf pen or trap at
Wolf Knob which derived its name from the large number of wolves that
congregated there. The hides of the wolves were tanned and the leather
made therefrom was put to many uses by the settlers.
Daniel Cunningham crossed the Ohio
River from Brandenburg, Kentucky, in 1800. He lived on the Kentucky
side of the river but cleared and cultivated a piece of land on the
Indiana side where the Town of Morvin was afterward laid out.
Edward Smith settled on the land now
owned by the Harrison County Agricultural Society, near Corydon, in
1806. Mr. Smith was born in England and came to America in 1774, as a
British soldier. He later deserted and came to Harrison county and
erected his cabin on a knoll near the Fairground Spring. Smith died at
Corydon in 1828, and while he was buried on the hill south of Corydon
the exact spot cannot be located. It is not certain that he ever joined
the American Army but the Daughters of the Revolution have erected a
monument to his memory. This was placed in the cemetery at Mt. Zion,
near Mauck- port, where his wife lies.
John Tipton settled near Brinley's
Ferry on the Ohio River in 1807. At the first election under the State
Constitution he was elected sheriff of Harrison county, and the records
show that at the July term of court, 1817, he and his deputy, Hiram C.
Boone, were fined one dollar for failing to maintain order in the court
room. Tipton served with Spencer's "Yellow Jackets" at the battle of
Tippecanoe. After the battle an election for officers was held and
Tipton was elected Captain of the company. He was promoted until he
became a Brigadier General in the service of the state,- and donated to
the state the Tippecanoe Battle ground. He died at Logansport, April
7th, 1839, and was buried with military honors.
Spier Spencer came from Kentucky to
Vincennes and from there he removed to Cory don in 1809, coming- down
the Wabash River and up the Ohio to Morvin, and thence overland to
Corydon. He organized a military company called the "Yellow Jackets"
for the campaign against the Indians which ended with the Battle of
Tippecanoe, November 7, 1811. Captain Spencer was seriously wounded
during the battle and' as he was being carried from the field a second
shot ended his life. He was the first sheriff of Harrison County and
served in that office from 1809 to 1811. For many years he conducted a
hotel in a large log house on Oak Street in Corydon. After his death
this business was continued by his widow until her marriage to William
Boone after which they conducted the famous "Billy Boone Tavern."
Patrick Shields was born in Virginia
in 1773. In 1800 he came to Kentucky and in the spring of 1805 he came
to Indiana and settled on the banks of the Ohio River about two miles
below New Albany. In a short time the high water drove him from his
home and he went westwardly and built a cabin on the banks of Indian
Creek near where the Town of .Crandall now stands. Mr. Shields was one
of the first judges of the Court of Common Pleas.
Robert Crosier, Dr. Adam Douglas,
Anthony Dodd and wife, Adam Dodd and twenty-three other members of
their families came from New York and settled in Boone Township on the
3rd day of June, 1816. Mr. Crosier bought a thousand acfes of land in
that township fiom the government for which he paid twelve and one-half
and twenty-five cents per acre.
Alexander Hockaday was born in
Danville, Kentucky, and moved to Indiana on the knobs just below New
Albany when a young man. In 1822 he settled in Blue River Township in
Harrison County where he started a blacksmith shop. He died in 1894 at
the age of one hundred and one years.
Miss Sarah Davis, was born in
Springfield, Kentucky, September 5, 1807. She came with her parents, to
Harrison County, in 1819. In 1825 she was married to William Gresham
with whom she lived near Lanesville until January, 1834, when Mr.
Gresham was killed while performing his duties as sheriff of the
"county. She was'afterward married to Nathan Runiley. She was the
mother of Colonel Benjamin Gresham, Colonel William Gresham and General
Walter Quinton .Gresham. She died March 6, 1906, in the house "where
she had lived since 1825.
Colonel Lewis Jordan was born in
Virginia, March 14, 1792. In 1819 he came to Harrison County and
settled'three miles south of Corydon. In 1828 he moved to Corydon and
started a tannery. Colonel Jordon held commissions in the Indiana
Militia bearing the signatures of six Indiana Governors commencing with
Jonathan Jennings in 1822, and ending with O. P. Morton in 1861.
John Mathes came to Harrison County
with his parents from Kentucky, while Indiana was still a territory. He
served with distinction as State Senator and Representative and was one
of the members of the Constitutional Convention of 1850.
Colonel J. J. Lehmanosky, of the
Ninth Polish Lancers of the Army of France, came to Harrison County and
settled two and one-half miles west of Cory- don, in 1833. He was born
in Warsaw, Poland, in 1773, but left his native country and went to
France. He drifted into the army and was identified with Napoleon
Bonaparte's fortunes until the the Battle of Waterloo put an end to his
commander's career. Together with many other officers he was
imprisoned, but made his escape and eventually found his way to America.
Henry Funk was born in the southern
part of Harrison County November 20, 1809, where his parents had
settled a short time before. He is still living near Elizabeth, on a
farm where he has lived since 1832. When a boy Mr. Funk lived near
Corydon and sold fruit and hazel nuts to the members of the
legislatures that were held at Corydon when the capital was there.
Daniel McRaecame to Harrison County
in 1814 and settled on the land where New Middletown now stands.
Robert Denbo settled a short distance
south of Corydon, in 1807.
Richard McMahon and Joseph McMahon
settled in the same neighborhood in 1808.
James Trotter was born in Armaugh
County, Ireland, January ist, 1811. He emigrated to Baltimore with his
parents in 1816, and in 1826, he came to Harrison county where he
settled near Lopp's Landing.
William M. Saffer was born in
Virginia, in 1796, and came to Harrison County with his parents when a
small boy. In 1853, he was elected to the Legislature where he was very
active in behalf of state-wide prohibition. He was the "temperance
candidate" for Governor before the convention which nominated A. P.
Willard. Mr. Saffer was beaten one vote and Mr. Willard was afterward
elected Governor. He died April 7th, 1869. Daniel Dean settled about a
mile east of where Lanesville now stands, in 1801.
Other stalwart pioneers who assisted
in opening up this unexplored wilderness to civilization were R. M.
Heth, who bought the claim and cabin of Squire Boone; William
Applegate, who came from Pennsylvania; Henry Watson came from Kentucky;
Frederick Mauck came from Virginia, and bought the cabin of some
earlier" settler where the town of Mauckport now stands. It was he who
established the first regular ferry between Kentucky and Harrison
county, operating for a number of years between Mauckport and
Brandenburg. Others were Isom Stroud, Teeson Byrn, Daniel Stout, Samuel
Pfrimmer, David Floyd, Thomas Wilson, Mr. Westfall and James Samuels.
It is said that James Samuels planted the first orchard in Harrison
The mills originally used for
"cracking corn" in Harrison county, were known as "horse mills." The
first mill to be propelled by water power was built by Moses Boone, on
Buck Creek, about four miles from the Ohio River, in 1806. In the'fall
of the same year Harvey Heth erected a second mill on Buck Creek about
a mile above Boone's mill. The next year Gov. Wm. H. Harrison built a
water power mill at Wilson's Spring on Blue River. For several years
the settlers of Harrison county went to Shepherdsville, Kentucky, for
their provisions. Shepherdsville was many miles away, but it was then
the nearest trading post, and trips were not frequently made for the
reason that the cornfield and abundant supply of wild game furnished
the chief subsistence of the early settlers.
Harrison County was named after Gen.
Wm. H. Harrison and was the fourth county formed in the state, Knox,
Clark and Dearborn being earlier. It was carved in 1809, from a portion
of the territory included in Knox County. It is bounded on the north by
Washington County, on the east by Floyd County and the Ohio River, on
the south by the Ohio River and on the west by the Ohio River and
Crawford County, and contains four hundred and seventy-eight square
miles. In common with the entire southern part of the state, it is
somewhat broken and hilly, but contains within its borders, some
beautiful and fertile valleys and more than fifty miles of bottom land
along the borders of the Ohio River. As a rule, the people of Harrison
County are prosperous and their generosity and hospitality is
Upon the formation of the county the
Governor appointed Patrick Shields Presiding Judge of the Court of
Common Pleas with Moses Boone and John G. Pfrimmer as Associate Judges.
They held the first term of court at Corydon on May 10, 1809, and
proceeded to divide the county into townships, lay out roads, license
ferries, taverns, etc., they having the jurisdiction now possessed by
the Board of County Commissioners. The first sheriff of the county was
Spier Spencer, who was appointed by the Governor. Dennis Pennington was
foreman of the first Grand Jury. The other members were John Smith,
William Nance, George Gresham, Reuben Wright, Tice Light, Henry Rice,
George Crutchfield, John Livanks, Jacob Conrad, EH Wright, William
Vest, Edward Smith, Lawrence Black, John Smith, Sr., William Branham,
Isaac Richardson, John Hickman, Lawrence Bell, William Pennington and
William Sands. The first election was held in the fall of 1809, and the
first officers were George F. Pope, Clerk and Recorder- Spier Spencer,
Sheriff and Treasurer. Thomas Randolph, being Attorney General of
Indiana Territory, appointed W. Dunn, of Harrison County, Deputy.
William Henry Harrison, the Father of
Harrison. County, was born in Berkeley, Va., February 9, 1773. He
entered the army early and was appointed Secretary of the Northwestern
Territory. On May 13. 1800, he was appointed Governor of Indiana
Territory. On January 10, 1801, he took charge of the office at
Vincennes, which was then the Territorial Capital. He remained in
charge of the executive department of the Territory until September,
1812, when he was appointed a Brigadier General and assigned to the
command of the northwestern frontier. He was the ninth President of the
United States. General Harrison, in 1807, entered a tract of land on
Blue River, at Wilson's Spring. He there set out a large apple orchard,
some of the trees of which are still standing to mark the spot where a
President of the United States once lived. He was in every sense a man
of the people and was known among the early settlers far and near as
Corydon, the first State Capital of
Indiana, is about the center of the county and is still the county
seat. It is located at the junction of Big and Little Indian Creeks,
and is surrounded on all sides by high hills, from which beautiful
views of the surrounding country may be obtained. It is located 120
miles south of Indianapolis, twenty miles west of New Albany, and eight
miles east of the famous Wyandotte Cave, and is reached by the
Louisville, New Albany and Corydon Railway, which operates between
Corydon and Corydon Junction, a station on the Southern Railway,
seventeen miles west of New Albany. In 1806 Edward Smith, a deserter
from the British army, settled at the present site of the Town of
Corydon, upon the land now owned by the Harrison County Agricultural
Society and used as a Fair Ground. In 1804 General William Henry
Harrison entered the land where Corydon now stands and held a
certificate of purchase for it. It was afterward sold by General
Harrison to Harvey Heth, who patented it and by a special act of
Congress laid out the Town of Corydon in 1807. Edward Smith brought his
family, consisting of his three sons, John, James and Samuel, and six
daughters, Jennie, Polly, Sallie, Rachel, Isabel and Nancy, to his new
home in the far west. The members of the family became fast friends of
General Harrison, who frequently stopped over night at the Smith home
on his trips between his farm on Blue River and the Government office
at Jeffersonville. It is said that in those days it was impossible to
secure lumber, and mother earth provided the floor of the Smith home. A
platform was constructed in one side of the cabin by planting two
forked poles in the ground and laying a pole from one to the other and
then laying cross poles from this to the logs of the wall. This
platform or gallery was reached by a ladder and provided the sleeping
quarters for the family, as well as any strangers who might happen in
to spend a night. When General Harrison staid over night with the
Smiths he slept on this platform where his slumbers were undisturbed
except by the cries of the wild animals in the forests near by.
Miss Jennie Smith was the proud owner
of an old "Missouri Harmony" which was the only song book in use in
those days. Vocal music was not often to be heard in the wilderness of
Harrison County, and upon the occasions of General Harrison's visits,
Miss Jennie was always requested, by the General, to sing from her song
book. His favorite song was "The Pastoral Elegy," and his favorite
singer Jennie Smith. These are the words of two verses of the song from
which the first capital derived its name :
What sorrowful sounds do I hear,
Move slowly along in the gale;
How solemn they fall on my ear
As softly they pass through the vale;
Sweet Corydon's notes are all o'er,
Now lonely he sleeps in the clay,
His cheeks blown with roses no more
Since death called his spirit away.
O Corydon ! hear the sad cries
Of Caroline plaintive and slow;
O Spirit look down from the skies
And pity the mourner below;
Till Caroline's voice in the grove
Which Philomel hears on the plain
Then striving the mourner to soothe
With sympathy joins in her strain.
This plaintive lament for the death
of the young shepherd, Corydon, sung by the sweet voice of Jennit
Smith, suggested to General Harrison, a name for the town which has
borne it for more than a hundred years.
In the early days the houses of
Corydon were all built of logs and stone in such a substantial manner
that many of them are still standing. Following Edward Smith, a Mr.
Westfall located in Corydon in in 1807 and started a tan yard. This was
later sold by him to a Mr. Kirkpatrick, who in turn sold it to Colonel
Lewis Jordan, who together with his son, David Jordan, operated it for
many years. Near the tanyard Colonel Jordan erected a substantial log
house which provided a shelter for the Jordan family for more than
eighty years. A smaller log house,- which is still standing in the
shade of the Constitutional Elm Tree, was built and occupied by Daniel
C. Lane, who later became State Treasurer of the State of Indiana. In
1808 Richard M. Heth built a log house on the corner of Poplar and
Water Streets. This house served as a dwelling until 1852, when it
burned. In that year also, Jacob Conrad erected the large stone house
on the Corydon Pike known as the Old Capital Hotel. Many ambitious and
substantial men settled in Harrison County, and in 1809, the
Commissioners bought of Harvey Heth and Win. H. Harrison one acre and
four perches of ground for a Public Square. This parcel of land
included the present Public Square and the block immediately west of
the square. Spier Spencer, the Sheriff, was ordered to contract, by
bid, for the clearing and cleaning the Public Square and for building a
Stray Pen on the west side thereof, with a fence seven rails high,
staked and ridered and a good ground chunk. This contract was let by
Mr. Spencer, April 26, 1810, to Henry Berghn, who was the lowest
bidder, the contract price being $33.75. This is convincing proof that
Public Graft was unknown in Harrison County in 1810. The first
squandering of public funds and accusation of public graft in Harrison
County occured while Henry W. Heth was Clerk. He was charged with
giving away English quills to the school children. The English quills
were said to be much better than the
ordinary quills for pens. .Mr. Heth's
extravagance, which caused the sensation, probably cost the county .as
much as two dollars during a period of several years.
On the gth day of March, 1809, a
contract was let to Dennis Pennington, by Judges Patrick Shields, Moses
Boone and John George Pfrimmer, for the building of a Court House. The
building of the stone walls was superintended by Watty Pennington, a
brother of Dennis Pennington, and the roof was put on by Patrick
Flanigan. The building was built in 1811 .and 1812 and cost about
$1500. The building was erected of limestone and is forty feet square.
The foundation was placed three feet in the ground and made two and one
half feet thick, and the room fifteen feet high. The walls of the
second story are two feet . thick and the rooms ten feet high. On the
roof was placed an iron balance or scales, as emblematic of justice.
The stairway to the upper story was originally on the inside and the
floor was made of stone flagging in the lobby outside of the barrrail.
Inside the bar-rail was a platform of hewn timber. Two very large fire
places, one on the north and one on the ^south, heated the room.
In 1833, Thomas Farquar removed the
"emblem .of justice" and reroofed the old building. He also hung the
bell which, for almost seventy years, has ^ summoned the citizens to
court, church, lectures,
political meetings, fires and even to
war, for, many years after, it conveyed the tidings to an anxious
populace that General John Morgan and his gang of "Guerillas" were
coming to destroy Corydon. In 1873,. the building was remodeled. The
steps were removed to the outside where they are now located and the
old stone floor gave way to a modern wood floor. The ire places were
filled up and the building was replas- tered. Since that time there has
been no change except the remodeling of the second story by building
new partitions, thereby changing the shape and number of rooms on the
second floor. From the time Indiana became a state until 1825, the
Legislature met in this building. The House of Representatives occupied
the lower room and the Senate Chamber was a large room in the south
side of the upper story. The clerk of the Supreme court occupied a room
in the northeast corner of the second story. When the Legislature was
not in session these rooms were occupied by the Supreme, District and
In the early days the state offices
were located in the building on Walnut street, how occupied as a
dwelling by the family of the late Amzi W. Brewster. A cellar under the
building was used as a vault for keeping the public funds. A one story
building on the west was used as a dwelling by the Treasurer of State.
When the capital was moved to Indianapolis in 1825, this house was
occupied by Samuel Merrill, who was then Treasurer of State. Mr.
Merrill was the father of Catherine Merrill, the authoress and teacher
of Indianapolis, and the grandfather of William A. Ketcham, formerly
Attorney General of Indiana, and Hon. Merrill Moores, now of
In 1825, the county built a small
brick building in the public square, to be used as an office building,
and the Masons built a second story on it, which was occupied by them
as a lodge hall. In 1840, a two story brick building was erected for
use as a county office building. In 1882 this building was torn down
and the present office building was erected in its place. The present
handsome jail and sheriff's residence was built in 1873. It has
recently been remodeled and today it presents a handsome appearance and
is a credit to the county.
The brick building known as the
Governor's Mansion was built by Harbin H. Moore, a noted lawyer, who in
1828, was defeated by James Brown Ray for Governor of Indiana. This
house was substantially built of brick, mad.e on the lot where it
stood, and remained standing until a few years ago, when it gave way to
a modern dwelling. The interior of the house was finished in hand
carved hardwood. While it was known as the Governor's Mansion, it was
occupied by but one Governor, Jonathan Jennings. Governor Posey
declined to live in Corydon on account of his health, and Governor
Hendricks lived in Madison, coming to Corydon at frequent intervals.
While in Corydon, he roomed at the Porter homestead, which is still
standing and is occupied as a dwelling by Patrick Griffin.
A few yards east of the Governor's
Mansion stood a two story stone house, which had been built by Reuben
W. Nelson, also a famous lawyer. In this house on the 3rd day of
December, 1817, delegates from the various Masonic Lodges of the state,
met to make arrangements for organizing a Grand Lodge for the State of
Indiana. The following eleven Masons attended this meeting; General W.
Johnson, S. C. Stevens, Abel C.JPepper, Christopher Harrison, Henry P.
Thornton, Joseph Bartholomew, John Miller, Davis Floyd, Hezekiah B.
Hull, James Dill and A. Buckner. After the transaction of some business
and making preparations for the completion of their arrangements, they
adjourned, to meet at Madison on the I2th day of January, 1818, and
there the Grand Lodge was duly organized.
The first blacksmith shop in Corydon
was established by Israel Butt at the corner of Oak and Walnut Streets,
Colonel Thomas Posey came to Corydon
from Virginia about 1810, and kept a general store on Oak Street, in a
brick house which is still standing. Colonel Posey was an excellent man
and was said to be the natural son of General George Washington. He
never married, and in 1861, he removed to Henderson, Kentucky, where he
died a short time afterward.
Joshua Wilson kept a store at the
southeast corner of Market and Walnut Streets for many years.
David Byrn started a silversmith
business in Corydon in 1818.
In 1816, James Giles walked from
Vincennes to Corydon and together with John Meffert engaged in the hat
In 1812, Dr. James B. Slaughter
passed through Corydon on a military expedition against the Indians. In
1813, he came back and located at Corydon.
In 1815, John T. Jamison started a
tavern on Chestnut Street in Corydon, and in 1816, David Craig
established one on Elm Street. When President Monroe and General
Jackson visited Corydon in 1819, they stopped at Craig's Tavern.
President Monroe and General Jackson visited Corydon on the 22nd day of
June, 1819, remaining until June 23rd, when they departed for
Thomas Farquar was a Justice of the
Peace and also kept boarders.
Spier Spencer kept a hotel in Corydon
until his death at Tippecanoe. His wife conducted the business for many
In 1807, Henry Rice left Washington,
Pennsylvania, and came down the Ohio River on a flat boat, landing at
Tobacco Landing. He settled on a farm six miles east of Corydon where
he remained until 1809, when he removed to Corydon and built a large
brick house on Chestnut Street near Elm where he- engaged in the hotel
Judan Vigus came to Corydon in 1816,
and opened out a tailor shop and tavern on the corner of Chestnut and
Armstrong Brandon kept store in a
house on Elm Street. In his store was a branch of the Indiana State
Bank of Vincennes, which he conducted.
Colonel Samuel Judah, a noted lawyer,
practiced law in Corydon for a number of years. He was afterwards
associated with Henry Clay in the noted Myra Clark case, to recover a
large amount of property in New Orleans.
John Aydelotte started a store on Elm
Street in 1820.
"Old Goshen" church is the oldest
church building in Harrison County. And, today it stands just as it did
when the work of building it was completed by- Moses Boone and George
Bartley in 1813. Many moss- covered tomb-stones more than
three-quarters of a century old stand in the cemetery near the church.
During the ninety-seven years of its existence, the population of "Old
Goshen Graveyard" has grown to about two hundred.
John George Pfrimmer, a United
Brethren Minister, organized all of the United Brethren Churches in
Indiana. He built Pfrimmer's Chapel in 1818. The original church was a
small log building and stood on the present site of the comfortable
frame building now known as Pfrimmer's Chapel.
James Armstrong, a Methodist
Preacher, settled near Lanesville in 1800, and for many years preached
at churches, school houses and camp meetings throughout the state.
Roger's Chapel in Posey Township was
built by a Mr. Rogers and a Mr. Potts, and is one of the oldest
churches in the county. The original building has long since
disappeared but the present church stands on the same site.
On July 31, 1824, John Hughes deeded
the land, where Thompson's Chapel now stands, for a Methodist Church
and school house. It was named in honor of William Thompson, a pioneer
preacher, who accepted such donations as were given him by the people
for his services.
During the early years of Harrison
County a Dunkard Church stood in Morgan Township, near Bradford. The
church has been gone for many years but the location is fixed by a
cemetery containing many tombstones nearly a hundred years old.
Mt. Solomon church in Scott Township
was built in August, 1835, and was the first Lutheran Church in
Indiana. The present church was dedicated about ihe year 1860 by the
Rev. P. A. Peter, now of Verona, Ohio.
Levi Long was a noted Baptist
Preacher. He was born about the close of the Revolutionary War and when
a young man he came to Indiana. He traveled over the state preaching
for a number of years. He helped to build the old state house and put
in some coins when the corner stone was laid.
The noted Republican meeting house
was built in Ripperdan's Valley in 1828. It was buil.t by the .united
efforts of the neighborhood and was free to all denominations. The
first Baptist preachers were Revs. Lone, Armstrong and Levi Long.
Lutheran ministers were Henkle, Reiser and Krack. Presbyterians were
Martin and Dunbar. Methodists were Revs. Daniels and W. C. Smith. The
Methodists organized there about 1838, and in 1847, organized the first
Sunday school, with Aaron Bean as superintendent. In 1873, the old
church building was removed to New Amsterdam and in 1884, it was washed
away by high water.
The present Christian Church, in
Corydon, was. originally a United Brethren Church was bought by a small
membership of the Christian Church in 1852.
In 1810, Rev. Dr. Crowe, of Hanover,
organized a Presbyterian Church in Corydon with Henry Rice and Mr.
Armstrong, as ruling elders. A small church was erected in 1819. Its
first pastor was William W. Martin who was commonly known as Father
Martin. He had three sons, D. N., William A. P., and Claudius B. H.,
all of whom became ministers, the two former going to China as
missionaries. W. A. P. Martin is still in China, as an aged missionary.
For many years he has been President of the Imperial College at Pekin
and was a trusted advisor during the Boxer uprising in that country.
The Catholic Cathedral at Lanesville
is one of .the finest churches in the state. The congregation was
organized in 1843 by Father Opperman. The first church was built in
1849 by Father Neyron. In 1854 Rev. Alphonse Munshina took charge of
the church and erected a school and parsonage for the Sisters of
Providence. The present magnificent church was begun in 1856 and
completed in 1860, and dedicated by Bishop de St. Palais in 1864.
Father Munshina was pastor until 1893, when he was succeeded by Rev. A.
Peckskamp who is still its pastor. Since assuming charge, Father
Peckskatnp has made many improvements in the interior of the church and
has built a handsome brick school building.
On Monday, the 3rd day of March,
1817, the citizens of Corydon met to consider the propriety of
incorporating the town. General John Tipton presided over the meeting
and Reuben W. Nelson was elected Secretary. A vote was taken and the
following qualified voters expressed themselves favorable to the
Joseph McMahon James B. Slaughter,
David S. Collins Anthony Gwartney, George Jones James Kirkpatrick, Wm.
P. Thomasson Patrick Flannagan, H. P. Coburn Jonathan Houser, Milo R.
Davis John T. Jameson, Daniel Craig William Johnson, Dudley Gresham A.
Lyman Beeman Henry Rice, Jr., Robert
A. New Thomas Spencer, James G. Smith William Smith, Harbin H. Moore
Ezekiel Wood, Samuel Ruth
There being no opposition to
incorporation, it was so ordered. On Monday, the 17th day of March,
1817, the qualified voters met at the court house, in Corydon, for the
purpose of electing five Trustees for said town. General John Tipton
presided and Davis Floyd was chosen Clerk of the election. The following
named persons were there elected to
serve for one year: Henry Rice, Richard M. Heth, A. D. Thorn, James
Kirkpatrick and Milo R. Davis.
This incorporation was permitted to
lapse, but the town was incorporated again on the 24th of January,
1835, and John Smith, W. A. Porter, Lewis Jordan, Thomas Craig and
Benjamin Aydelotte were elected Trustees.
The incorporation lapsed again and
Corydon lost its charter a second time, but it was re-incorporated
again in 1849, and James G. May, T. C. Slaughter, S. K. Wolfe, Thomas
Posey and Benjamin Aydelotte were elected Trustees.
Source: Indiana's birthplace: a
history of Harrison County, Indiana By William H. Roose